Being a semi-professional film critic meant seeing a lot of garbage, in addition to the many fine films I got to see. Some of these I paid good money for though, and more than the cost of the ticket, I’d rather have my time back. This is the bottom of the barrel.
Alice in Wonderland
(2010, Tim Burton)
Also known as the moment I stopped trusting Tim Burton, one of my favorite directors. A candy-colored disaster, it’s responsible for kicking off the current wave of Disney live-action remakes, which is unforgivable on its own. But it also gave us this horrendous moment. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.
(2017, Peter Vack)
The single worst thing my eyes have ever beheld, this “movie” is an excruciating 74 minutes. Everything about it is unrelentingly unpleasant. The story, such as it is, involves a junkie couple and there attempts to score another high. The film seems to have been conceived as a dare, to see how gross and ugly a movie can be and still not say anything.
(2012, Peter Berg)
Killed the idea of a Board Game Expanded Universe in its infancy, and that’s the only thing I can say positively about it. It also helped kill Taylor Kitsch’s film career, and that wasn’t his fault. An incredibly idiotic Transformers knock-off with atrocious acting across the board, it’s an insult to the audience.
(2010, Antoine Fuqua)
Fuqua made a name for himself with the overrated Training Day, and hasn’t ever really made a good film. (Though I have a soft spot for the supremely ridiculous Shooter.) His worst is this cop drama that runs through every possible cliché, wasting a terrific cast in the process.
(2013, Paul Schrader)
Before he was able to bounce back with First Reformed, Schrader had back-to-back flops with this and Dog Eat Dog (which at least has some style). Starring Lindsay Lohan and porn actor James Deen, the film is about as un-sexy as a movie about a couple and their psychosexual games can be. Dreadfully dull and painfully acted, this is about as bad as it gets.
(2016, David Frankel)
It’s a punchline for a reason. Will Smith’s awful 2016 – we’ll get to the other film in a minute – was capped with this appalling melodrama. Still crippled with grief over the loss of his daughter, Smith’s character can’t function at work, jeopardizing the company. So his co-workers HIRE ACTORS to pretend to be his EMOTIONS, and they’ll secretly FILM HIS CONVERSATIONS and EDIT THE ACTORS OUT so it looks like HE’S CRAZY and they can CLOSE A BIG DEAL. Why so many great performers agreed to take part in a project so morally bankrupt is beyond me.
(2012, Charles de Lauzirika)
A film so dark and morally depraved it makes Joker look like nuanced and empathetic, Crave is grim drama that lets its “imaginative” protagonist literally get away with murder, facing absolutely zero repercussions for his vigilantism.
(2018, Eli Roth)
Speaking of vigilantism, this witless remake is like Fox News talking points come to life. Living in a crime-ridden Chicago, Paul (Bruce Willis) is distraught after burglars kills his wife and attack his daughter. Seeking revenge, he unleashes his firepower on anyone and everyone in town, later being hailed as a hero. Paul is the mythical “good guy with a gun,” and sure to make this the No. 1 film of anyone with a Punisher sticker on the back of their truck.
Exodus: Gods and Kings
(2014, Ridley Scott)
Moses is an important figure to billions of people, and somehow Scott and Christian Bale turned this into one of the most boring films of the decade. An expensive epic that failed to get its story right, whitewashing was the least of its problems.
(2010, Noah Baumbach)
Like Ridley Scott, Baumbach will turn up on my Best Of list too, but he started off the decade at the bottom. Ben Stiller’s title character is one of the most thoroughly unpleasant people ever to lead a movie, and the movie just moves from one uncomfortable scene to the next. You’re too good for this loser, Greta Gerwig!
Hannah Has a Ho-Phase
(2012, Jamie Jensen & Nadia Munla)
While there’s certainly a need for an intelligent movie to navigate and satirize gender politics, this ain’t it, chief. Instead of using any ounce of wit or insight, the movie literally has a character ask, “How come if a guy sleeps with a bunch of women, he’s a stud. But if a woman sleeps with a bunch of guys, she’s a slut?” Report this to HR and move on.
(2013, Andrew Niccol)
Oh, Andrew Niccol. Wrote two of my favorite movies of the ’90s, then kept falling and falling. I was hoping he would elevate Stephnie Meyer’s sci-fi romance, but he sunk down to her level. Not even the great Saoirse Ronan could save this nonsense.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War
(2016, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan)
Proof that not even assembling one of the most attractive casts of all time can overcome a bad script, this unnecessary prequel to the already pretty bad Snow White and the Huntsman delivers a screaming Charlize Theron and a catatonic Emily Blunt, while Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain swing axes in a flurry of CGI and ugly sets. What’s the opposite of a fairy tale?
(2010, Robert Luketic)
Fails as both an action flick and a romantic comedy, its leads (charisma black holes Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl) have no chemistry, and it wastes a solid bench of comic talent, including Catherine O’Hara, Casey Wilson, Rob Riggle, Martin Mull and Alex Borstein.
(2015, William Monahan)
Will stretch your love of Oscar Issac to the absolute breaking point. This meandering crime drama attempts to be philosophical and funny (with bizarre interludes featuring Mark Wahlberg) and succeeds at nothing. Hard to believe this is the guy who won an Oscar for writing The Departed.
(2018, Pierre Morel)
A gross Death Wish knock-off with laughable courtroom scenes, ridiculous action beats and the most unbelievable character transformation ever committed to screen, this racist piece of garbage should have been spit out.
(2012, Nima Nourizadeh)
A vile found-footage “comedy” that tried to have its cake and eat it too. Its nerdy protagonist gets to throw his wild party, suffer no consequences, hook up with the hot girl in class, and still get to win over the quiet classmate he was always pining for. The camerawork is literally nauseating.
(2013, Brad Furman)
A film that seemed to have been greenlit as an R, edited to get a PG-13 and then got an R anyway, it’s a thriller with no thrills, and a trio of bad performances, including Ben Affleck’s low point.
(2014, Susanne Bier)
While there are no claims the film had a rocky shoot, something was clearly lost in translation between the production and the final project. This is an historical disaster, a film on a big scale with absolutely nothing to show for it. It’s one of those rare project where a star-studded cast and acclaimed director come together for something unbelievably inert.
(2016, David Ayer)
I don’t even know where to start with this. A thoroughly confused project from start to finish, what was supposed to be a wild ride through the dark side of Gotham City introduces a gazillion characters, but only its two best actors (Margot Robbie and Will Smith) can pull out anything resembling a person. Jared Leto’s turn as the Joker (and his frankly disturbing method of getting into character) is rightfully mocked, but absolutely nothing in this film works.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2
(2012, Bill Condon)
Take this with a grain of salt, since I think all the Twilight movies are bad, but they saved the worst for last. With its creepy baby, its unsettling “imprinting” subplot, its atrocious dialogue (“You named my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster?!”) and its bloodless climax (which it doesn’t even have the audacity to commit to), it’s an ignominious end to a rotten franchise. At least Lee Pace and Michael Sheen look like they had fun.
(2010, Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer)
As I mentioned above, the Twilight saga stinks, so they deserve to be properly skewered. Unfortunately, schlockmeisters Friedberg & Seltzer were on the case. Maybe one joke out of 100 will cause a mild chuckle, but this was basically the nail in their own coffin.
(2017, Woody Allen)
Likely the last Allen movie that will ever get a proper release (but you can see A Rainy Day in New York on select airlines!), the former master went out with a complete whimper, hitting on all his pet themes without getting a decent performance out of any of his cast. At least Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography looks great.